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Archive for the ‘Tori Amos’ Category

Despite having grown up around a fair amount of Led Zeppelin (thanks to my sister), I first became acquainted with “When the Levee Breaks” while watching the amazing film, “Argo.” I’m not going to lie — I haven’t looked at the lyrics, which is a rarity for me, considering how much I value poetry. But thinking of the levee breaking as a metaphor, I suppose it’s describing the point where all control goes out the window. And the groove? Yeah, it doesn’t get any better than that. And Tori has covered it. I believe there’s a quote somewhere where Tori described Robert Plant as “the Goddess.” Goddess with a capital “G.” I found it: “Something really clicked in me when I discovered Led Zeppelin. And you have to understand what that did for me because first of all, oh my God, besides the guitar playing, which was you know, I *wanted* to be Jimmy Page. That’s what I really wanted to be. But I wanted to *be with* Robert Plant. Just the way he’d move his body and the sensuality. I mean, I just knew I had found the Goddess, that was it.”

Image

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Once in a long while, I come across some incredibly astute and thought-provoking comment about Tori’s music via an online forum or youtube page. (Hence, I cannot claim originality with the Barber connection here). Anyway, I was watching a rather old video of a performance of “Upside Down,” a b-side from the Little Earthquakes era in the early 90s. And to my pleasant surprise, someone was comparing it to Samuel Barber’s “Excursions No. 1.” I know probably as much about Barber as the next average professional string player — not a particularly enormous amount, but certainly enough to be intrigued by this comment. So I went and had a listen. Sure enough, there are similarities, at least with the opening motif. My excitement stemmed from the fact that I’ve always felt that much of Tori’s music possesses the same haunting modalities found in composers I really, really love: Bartok, Chopin, Debussy…and Barber too apparently.  Tori was classically trained, having started at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore when she was 5, so perhaps it’s no surprise that classical elements are found all over her music, especially her output from the 90s.  “Upside Down” sounds undoubtedly more simplistic and a bit adolescent (I can say that since I’ve been listening to her since I was 14) compared to the Barber.  But songs like “Peeping Tommi” (also from the same era) are a bit richer musically, and also echo such pieces as Debussy’s “Cathedral Engloutie” (the Sunken Cathedral) and Bartok’s “Roumanian Folk Dances.” I’m not really interested in theoretical analyses of these pieces (sorry, said analysis is just boring as hell, in my opinion, and I’ve had way too many colleagues say to me over the years, “hey, listen to that augmented 6 chord” ugh!), but sonically and emotionally, I feel they come from the same source. When I first discovered Tori (circa 1994), I had been studying piano quite seriously for many years. And one of things I gravitated to in her music, particularly that of “Under the Pink,” was that it reminded me of Chopin Waltzes and Nocturnes. The waltz-y sections of “Yes, Anastasia”, for example, were basically a cooler, edgier, more contemporary version of Chopin.  And all of these other comparisons are really fodder for greater, richer listening experiences.  So listen on!  😉

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Robert Smith and Tori are pretty much my favorite musicians ever.  I listened to them through the nineties, through college, through graduate school, through my twenties, and I still do.  I live a life surrounded by a great many “tee-tas” (snooty classical musicians who like to sing music to friends and colleagues using “tees” and “tas”) so these days I find even greater solace in the music that speaks closest and dearest to my heart.

This is one of Tori’s most beautiful covers.  So different from the Cure’s original version, yet capturing, I think, the true essence of what the song is all about.  It’s one of the world’s greatest love songs.  And both Robert and Tori’s ability to convey melancholic, earnest, profound feeling never fails.

Gotta admire Robert’s iconic high tops…and lipstick:

Beautiful Tori photo show, to boot:

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I don’t know why I couldn’t combine this post with the one below it, but I couldn’t figure it out…Alas…

My comfort song…See below…

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In light of the recent (and horrifying) image of Tori Amos for her upcoming record, “Night of Hunters,” I decided to go back to music that gives me hope, personally and artistically.  I love to write about Tori, but rather than doing just that, I’m going to post my favorite live performances from each era.  Tori reminds me what it is to be a musician and why I chose to go that path with my life.  Enjoy!  🙂

Little Earthquakes Era – 1991/1992: “Here in my Head,” a b-side (Best moment: 3 minutes, 10 seconds basically to the end).  Painfully heartfelt, honest, angst-ridden in the most beautiful way…Best line/verse (I think):

maybe i’m just the horizon you run to
when she has left
you and me here
alone on the floor
you’re counting my feathers
as the bells toll
you see the bow and the belt
and the girl from the south
all favorites of mine
you know them all well
and spring brings fresh little puddles
that makes it all clear
makes it all…
hey, do you know
hey, do you know
what this is doing to me?
oh, here…
here…
here. in my head

Under the Pink era: “Bells for Her” 1994  — sensitive, dark, moody, sad, earnest.  You kind of have to be a major fan to sit through the entire performance, but man, what an introspective ride.  This song reminds me of very lonely winters.   Best line/verse: bells and footfalls and soldiers and dolls
brothers and lovers she and i were
now she seems to be sand under his shoes
there’s nothing i can do
can’t stop what’s coming
can’t stop what’s on its way

Boys for Pele (I’m allowed 2 since this is my favorite record of all-time).  1) Marianne 2) Horses/Fool on the Hill

Best line/verse from either: tuna
rubber
a little blubber in my igloo
and i knew you pigtails and all
girl when they fall
and they say marianne killed herself
and i said not a chance
don’t you love the girls ladies babies
old bags who say she was so pretty why
why why why did she crawl down in the old
deep ravine

From the Choirgirl Hotel: Such an AWESOME record.  I’m choosing her performance of “Cruel” at Madison Square Garden in 1998.  Best line:  dance with the sufi’s celebrate your top ten in the charts of pain
lover brother bogenvilla my vine twists around your need
even the rain is sharp like today as you sh-sh-shock me sane
no cigarettes only peeled HAVANA’S for you i can be cruel

To Venus and Back: Such a special record.  I choose a live performance of “Concertina”.  Best line/verse: the soul-quake
happened here in a glass world
particle by particle
she slowly changes
she likes hanging chinese paper cuts
just another fix
can i weather this

i got my fuzz all tipped to play
i got a dub on your landscape
then there’s your policy of tracing
the sauce without the blame

Strange Little Girls – 2001 – terribly unique covers album.  I choose “Real Men,” written by Joe Jackson.  Best line/verse: what’s a man now
what’s a man mean
is he rough or is he rugged
cultural and clean
now it’s all changed
it’s got to change more
we think it’s getting better
but nobody’s really sure

Scarlet’s Walk – 2002: Such a beautiful masterpiece of a record.  I choose her live version of “Virginia.”  Best line/verse:  he will
change from her
sunwise to clockwise
to soul trading
still she’ll lay
down her Body
covering him all
the same
oh Virginia
do you remember
when the Land held
your hand
oh Virginia

The Beekeeper – 2005 – I fell in love with my husband right around when this record came out, so it’s hard for me NOT to love it.  Still, it shows a departure from the bad ass, angsty, emotional Tori we saw previously. Nonetheless, I think her live shows were incredible.  I choose “Song of Soloman,” which was basically an improv she did for a Viktor & Rolf fashion show.  Parts of it are in her tune, “Take me with You.”  this is pretty magical.  Just watch the whole clip if you can, so you wait for the models to come out.  They do so at 2:15.

American Doll Posse: I don’t have much to say here, but she blew me away at the live show in 2007 for this record.  I choose “Beauty of Speed.”  She is pretty mesmerizing in this.

Abnormally Attracted to Sin: 2009 – Strong Black Vine, live, because she does a “Tori rant” reminiscent of her rants from 1998-ish.  Interesting record, but not much to say.  Still, this live clip is pretty awesome.  I happened to be reading “the Story of O” when this record came out, and well…it proved to be a pretty amazing soundtrack.  😉  She’s pretty insane in this vid, but if you’re a Tori fan…well, I guess we get it.

I have to end on a better note, however.  So this is my favorite live performance of a b-side (other than “Here in My Head.”)  I choose “Butterfly” from the Under the Pink era.  “Butterfly” is in my top 5 favorite Tori songs of all time.  Favorite line/verse:

stinky soul get a little lost in my own
hey general, need a little love in that hole of yours
one ways, now, and saturdays and our kittens
all wrapped in cement
from cradle to gumdrops
got me running girl as fast as i can
and is it right, butterfly,
they like you better framed and dried

Tori Amos, Choirgirl era, circa 1998

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Just for fun, I’m adding my favorite line from each record.  🙂

1. Tori Amos, “Boys for Pele”: passionate, dark, improvisational, beautiful, innovative

“Don’t make me scratch on your door, I never left you for a banjo, I only just turned around for a poodle and a Corvette, and my impression of my best Angie Dickinson…”

2. Kate Bush, “Hounds of Love”: epic, symphonic, inventive, moving, revolutionary

“It breaks the cage, and fear escapes and takes possession, just like a crowd rioting inside.”

3. The Beatles, “the White Album”: imaginative, quirky, colorful, crafted, eclectic

“I look at you all, see the love there that’s sleeping, while my guitar gently weeps.  I look at you all, still my guitar gently weeps.”

4. Joni Mitchell, “Blue”: intimate, cozy, lyrical, nuanced, unforgettable

“Born with the moon in Cancer.  Choose her a name she will answer to.  Call her green for the children who’ve made her.  Little green, be a gypsy dancer.”

5. Pink Floyd, “Dark Side of the Moon”: trippy, atmospheric, memorable, nuanced, intriguing

“Forward he cried from the rear and the front rank died.  And the general sat and the lines on the map moved from side to side.”

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I recently read an article entitled “Birth of the Uncool: in Defense of the Tori Amos Fan” via Bitch magazine (http://bitchmagazine.org/article/birth-of-the-uncool).  Great article and sort of hit the nail on the head of something that has been rather a mystery to me the last, say, 6 years or so — that Tori really has become “uncool.”  Now, I never, NEVER loved Tori because she was considered “cool,” but yes, I did indeed have a pretty hearty group of friends & aquaintances who appreciated her, particularly in the mid-late ninties & about up to 2003-ish.  Then suddenly my Tori stickers on my cello case seemed…well, less cool.  But especially as a musician, I can’t help myself — I LOVE her.  And will forever.  She is the ultimate consummate musician and a total bad ass.  Her music has been my best friend through every major event in my life since 1995.  What more can I say, her music has changed my life.  And “cool” or not, it is worth considering.  It is worth revisiting.

I’ve already written (probably ad nauseum) about Tori and how awesome she is, but I really think the music speaks for itself.  I STILL think she is a phenomenal pianist, though I’m far more impressed with her material from the 90s – her live material, mostly – than from anything since Scarlet’s Walk.  But man, she is awesome.  Her playing, her voice, her timing, her originality of lyrics & compositional techniques (see: Springtime of His Voodoo, etc.) her natural feel for rhythm and nuance of phrase.  One word: superb.  Take this live clip from 1994…sorry, no Regina Spektor or (god forbid) Lady Gaga comes close.  (Trust me, I have FAR more respect for Regina than Gaga, no doubt, man!) http://www.hereinmyhead.com/sounds/files/bees/UpsideDown_LiveInBoston1994.mp3

I think the important thing to me, as a musician, is that no one sounds like Tori.  Her piano style and vocal style are totally hers.  Sure, sometimes her high range may echo Kate Bush or Joni Mitchell, particularly with the piano material accompanying it.  But really, they are all so incredibly different that the comparison may not really be fair.  Perhaps such a comparison is just cliche.

Who knows why Bjork is trendy with professional musicians & Tori is considered a little quirky & “uncool”

My sister did this as a CD cover. 🙂

.  Doesn’t seem like a fair evaluation, but the masses are a tricky bunch.  I would actually much prefer that jazz musicians NOT do Tori covers…oh geez, let’s pray that doesn’t happen (and I absolutely love many, many branches of jazz, so that’s no offense here)…but it would mean that Tori had indeed become…well, trendy.  So Bjork can hold that place, and that’s cool.  😉

Tori’s music speaks for itself…Nevermind the crazy, tribal dance at the beginning…and the scrunchy.  Tori rules:

A different era, but totally awesome:

One more clip; my favorite Y Kant Tori Read song and a great “running mix” addition.  80s Tori rules:

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Stonewall Kitchen peach-amaretto jam next to a Big French Haut-Medoc

Jason's chana saag + some arugula

Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer (Pickles at left)

The plank pose (not me in the photo obviously)

One of Henry Giroux's books

Maria Bonnevie from the film "I am Dina"

A beautiful view from Kennebunkport, Maine (the only thing missing from this picture are cliff-dwelling pugs)

Cat photography: Mr. Fernzee having a blissed-out moment

So my blog-skeptic friends would take one look at this and say something to the effect of, “why would you think people would find your ‘best of” list to be remotely interesting?”  Said question implies, of course, that bloggers are narcissistic enough to have the audacity to think other people would be interested in what they think.  I totally see the point.  Alas, considering the only people who read my blog (I think) are members of my immediate family and pretty close friends…I mean, if any of them wrote this sort of list, you better bet I’d be interested.  Ya know?

So anyway, spring this year has been pretty special and beautiful, so I decided to compile the aforementioned “best of” list for spring ’10.  I know a hearty handful of my friends and family share very similar interests, so hopefully at least some of you will find this interesting.  🙂

1. Music: I know it’s old news at this point for those of you who have any knowledge whatsoever of my music taste, but SHEARWATER – their entire catalog is amazing.  A beautiful combination of rock…and well, just mystical music, some of which does indeed sound a bit “folksy,” though I know Jonathan Meiburg, their frontman, doesn’t care for said label.  And two, TORI AMOS: her live catalog from the late 90s.  Anything from 1996-1999.  Watch out.  She is the world’s ultimate musical bad ass and never fails to amaze me (minus her recent ventures into plastic surgery & strange fascination with the word “sin”).  See youtube video for amazingness predating plastic surgery.

2. Food: Vegetables prepared at home.  My foodie quartet members and I always seem to come back to one topic of discussion: brussel sprouts and/or cauliflower & the preparation of such.  My personal favorite: roasted brussel sprouts drizzled with olive oil & honey with some fresh ground pepper & sea salt.  Thanks to Kate, I now know to put nutmeg on my cauliflower.  What a savory sensation!  Hannah recommended preparing brussel sprouts with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil & salt/pepper.  Wonderful!  The picture I’ve included above is of a remarkable dish that Jason made — it’s basically Indian chana saag, using whatever spices we had at home.  Cheap, delicious, healthy.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

3. Wine: I’ve had many a wonderful bottle of wine in 2010, but I think the robust red given to me by Angie Sommerfeld takes the cake (no pun intended, though she did indeed so generously give me said bottle at my 30th bday party…thanks, Angie!!!!).  It is a BIG RED: “Chateau Larose-Trintaudon Haut-Medoc” 2005.  Sadly, I am not drinking it right now, but it was bursting with cherry and just too delicious to not mention here.

4.  Treat: Stonewall Kitchen peach-amaretto jam.  I swear, I could eat the stuff by itself.  And if you’re vacationing in Maine, do visit Stonewall Kitchen.  They have outstanding cooking classes, a wonderful cafe, and TONS of food-related merch.  Thanks to Gillian for introducing me!

5. Vacation destination: Kennebunkport, Maine.  This is a beautiful, charming town with an abundance of fabulous restaurants.  Check out HB Provisions for lobster rolls, “crabster paninis,” dog treats, coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and the world’s BEST ice cream.  Last holiday season, when J & I went there for Thanksgiving (after the birth of my niece!), we got pumpkin ice cream AND peppermint stick ice cream.  Totally to die for.  Oh, and whoopie pies are native to Maine.  They’re basically giant oreos, but the chocolate part is like devil’s food cake.  Utter decadence.

6. Exercise: yoga plank pose.  After years & years of doing crunches with very so-so results, the plank pose really targets your core muscles.  You will notice a difference, I promise.  I do many reps, holding as long as I can.  I have the “squishy middle” gene, no doubt, and this has helped.  Pair it with some cardio and maybe some weight training & you’re good to go (wow, that sounded really corny).

7.  Movie: “I am Dina” with the Scandinavian actress Maria Bonnevie.  It’s a very, very intense & dark movie, but Bonnevie does one of the best imitations of a cellist I’ve ever seen.  I mean, with the exception of the narrow, nervous vibrato, she really does look like she’s actually playing.  Plus, she’s just amazing to look at, in addition to a couple other beautiful male actors (NOT including Gerard Depardieu! sorry…) in the film.

8. Authors/theorists: Henry Giroux.  He’s written on everything from Tiger Woods to the messed up messages of Disney movies to the films, “Kids” and “Fight Club” to the Bush administration to the Obama administration…  He’s a genius, in my opinion.  http://www.henryagiroux.com/online_articles.htm

9. Beauty: Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer.  After years of dealing with weird white stuff around the corners of my mouth (apparently very elderly people are NOT the only victims of this problem), I’ve finally found lip balm that does not render me with this unfortunate issue.  Happily, you can buy Burt’s Bees at Duane Reade, Ricky’s, and a million other beauty purveyors.  It also has tea tree in it, I think, so it has this lovely cooling sensation.  Long lasting too.  LOVE it.  It beats, Kheil’s, for those of you who love Kheil’s.

10.  Task of the moment: Broadening one’s career horizons.  Need I say more?

11. Hobby/pastime: Cat photography.  I have three cats & they are all like my children & my best friends.  Jason would agree, though we could both do without the unbelievably excessive amounts of white cat hair EVERYWHERE.  Anyway,  Mr. Burns is the most fun to photograph while he’s “bathing,” because he just looks sooooo happy &  blissed-out.  When anxious, look at a photo of him with that blissful look on his face.  It will lower your blood pressure, I promise.  His little pink nose is too much.

One of my favorite Tori performances from the late 90s.  It’s from “Sessions at W 54th” hosted by sexy Talking Heads frontman, David Byrne.  This performance gets more & more intense as it goes along.  Amazing.  Sorry, people, this makes Lady Gaga look like she’s in kindergarten.  With all due respect to Lady Gaga, of course.  😉  Also, a 1999 performance of Blood Roses.

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Tori - Boys for Pele era, circa 1996

Tori Amos is the most amazing musician I’ve ever encountered live/in person or via recording…with that said, I’ll try to keep background info to a minimum.  The point of this post is not to self-indulgently wax poetic about my “favorite musician of all time” or to try to convert people who find Tori probably one of four things: 1) too bizarre / melodramatic 2) too feminine – whatever that means, but I think we all have our, albeit socially constructed, definitions 3) too emotional – whatever that means or 4) too middle aged & plastic-surgeried to take seriously in 2010.  Particularly #4 is seriously unfortunate…because the woman is a genius.  And I stand by that after 15 years of steady listening.

To reduce a rather long career  to a succinct summation, I’ll try to keep this bio to an absolute minimum: Tori (Myra Ellen Amos) was born in North Carolina in the 1960s, a daughter of a methodist minister.  A child prodigy, she was accepted at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore at the age of 5, & was subsequently kicked out 6 years later for rebellious attitudes towards music (i.e. more of a penchant for Jimi Hendrix & Jimmy Page than Mozart…though, mind you, she can play Mozart absolutely beautifully).  She played gay bars in the DC area during adolescence & moved to LA at the age of 20-21.  During her early twenties, she played/sang in her own metal/hair band, Y Kant Tori Read.  A commercial failure & labeled a “bimbo” by the press, Tori transcended this disappointment into writing her groundbreaking solo record, “Little Earthquakes.”  LE was just that — groundbreaking.  Raw, emotional, naked piano-based music…the record was a success.  This was followed by “Under the Pink” in 1994 — both records included such sensitive & intense subjects as sexuality, religion, masochism, hate between women, and relationships between women and men & women.  “Boys for Pele” was released in 1996 & is, to many, many die-hard Tori fans, her greatest masterpiece.  A bizarre compilation of 18 songs…yes, 18…this record goes from the depths of darkness to sardonic humor, references to female circumcision, teen suicide, Lucifer in whatever form you may choose — even an ice cream vendor — blatant in-your-face sexuality, light-hearted feminist-infused funniness mixed with irony, to the plain realities of pain — loving men, leaching off of them, losing them & somehow finding the wherewithal to evolve beyond this form of vampirism.  Mix in some serious improvisational solo piano, some tripped-out Baroque harpsichord, and you have “Boys for Pele.”  The record is the best I’ve heard in my entire life.  No questions asked.  Most people would think she’s a wack-job, but after all these years, I still think she’s genius.  See youtube video…just be prepared to think she’s on drugs.  I’ll never forget when my sister and I were watching the Boys for Pele press-kit video and we both realized — in unison — that the background vocals for “caught a lite sneeze” were her singing “Inanna.”  Holy shit is all I have to say about that.

Her next few records were also masterpieces (imo) — the imaginative, electronica of “From the Choirgirl Hotel” to “To Venus & Back”…a record of covers entitled, “Strange Little Girls” followed by a concept record depicting a journey of a woman, “Scarlet,” the embodiment of post 9-11 America, “Scarlet’s Walk.”  Then her sort of cheezy, adult-contemporary record “the Beekeeper.”  The latter came out about 2 weeks before I began a relationship with my husband, so it always has a special place in my heart.

Unfortunately, the next record – released in 2007 – was “American Doll Posse,” an album with a very, very cool concept and a very, very lame delivery.  I mean, who the hell uses “MILF” in regards to oneself with any kind of self-respect?  (See Tori’s “Big Wheel”…LAME, I tell you…totally and utterly lame, and quite frankly embarrassing.)  But the record had a cool concept, which was that each group of songs had a Greek goddess archetype associated with it.  The show I saw her do was her as Athena (AKA “Pip”), who had the most awesome black leather tights I’ve ever seen.

The sad reality is that I hear so, so, so many bands & singer-songwriters for whom Tori Amos laid the ground work…and quite frankly, Tori did so with way, way more passion & originality…and yet, people just don’t want to cite her as an influence, I suppose, because she’s become such a wack-o in her middle age.  I mean, let’s face it — people thought she was a wacko back in 1991 – 92, but she was so young & waifish & new & original & I think her insanely good musical abilities looked so wonderfully different (they were!).  Remember MTV’s 120 Minutes?  Those guys loved her way back when.  Now she’s an alien-looking, plastic-surgeried 40-something with a strange obsession with the word “sin” and a tendency to appear super duper pretentious in interviews…who still happens to be a bad ass, but all people see is how weird & vain she looks & also how she her recent songs have really lame-o themes that just seem totally ridiculous for a middle aged mom.  “Abnormally Attracted to Sin”… I mean…really?

Anyway, to make a long story short, I think Tori Amos is an incredible…no, phenomenal musician, and her records from the mid-nineties will absolutely 100 percent go down in history as tremendously influential on every level.  Name one musician who plays piano like her…no one does.  Not even Lady Gaga, my friends, if we’re just looking at pop musicians.  Sorry, the two don’t compare.  I think audiences these days have become even dumber than they were back in the nineties, so I don’t think people would know quite what to do with Tori…I mean, let’s try to dissect the line “tuna, rubber, little blubber in my igloo” from “Marianne.”  But I don’t know…maybe the imaginations & intellects of listeners of 2010 haven’t atrophied quite as much as I thought.  I sure hope not.

I have no eloquent way to end this post.  Tori’s music speaks for itself.  These videos are from the Boys for Pele era.

Note the way she responds to the jackass in the audience at 1:00.  She takes it out in true Tori style at 3:24.

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One of the Philabaum lemons being put to good use

My mom has always said that when my dad traveled, she would resort to really, really simple eating — like, cereal for dinner.  While I relate  to that approach to “single/alone” dining, I really do enjoy making quality meals for myself that do indeed take some preparation, & some- albeit simple- planning.

My husband is an absolutely outstanding cook…without exaggeration, one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to encounter.  I’ll never forget the first time he made his famous “northwoods mushroom pasta” back in March of 2005 to the soundtrack of Nick Drake, Miles Davis, Iron & Wine, and John Coltrane/Johnny Hartman (the most romantic record I’ve ever heard).  Anyway, said mushroom pasta resulted from an extraordinarily complicated recipe involving various types of mushrooms — fresh and dried –, homemade mushroom broth, etc.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out for dinner when I’ve literally thought, “Jason could do this better at home…or I could even do this better at home!”  So we dine at home as much as possible, and his approach in the kitchen is a beautiful sight to behold.  His dishes tend to resemble those at Supper, NYC’s absolutely wonderful east village Italian.

With that said, Jason is out of town…a lot.  But rather than shying away from the kitchen & opting for cereal (a la Catherine Riley – who, btw, is also an outstanding cook) or take- out (a la undergrad years), I consistently venture into food preparation with some hopefully fresh produce, almost always olive oil, usually some greens, and probably a dairy element — like goat cheese or parmesan.  I love salads, dried fruit, avocado, broiled chicken breasts, etc.

So the Philabaum lemons: one of my dearest friends, Aubyn Philabaum, is from Tucson.  I was very happy to see her last night for a (albeit wretchedly torturous) Bikram yoga class followed by an absolutely lovely dinner at Aubyn’s Hell’s Kitchen apartment.  I brought some french white wine — in terms of the Ninth Ave wine store’s chilled selections, it was that or a $7 bottle of Chardonnay, which I most definitely was NOT going to purchase…plus I was so spent from the Bikram torture that I could hardly think.  The camel pose was the last straw.  So back to the dinner: Aubyn is a wonderful cook, always has health in mind, and really knows how to season.  She knows good food & wine…like, really, really.  What could be better for a culinary combination?  She made two kinds of fish — halibut & tilapia, a lovely salad with avocado & cucumber, and some red potatoes.  So the lemons:  Her parents apparently have this lemon tree — that, surprisingly has produced oranges…yes, oranges one year when it…well, just decided not to produce lemons.  But anyway, I guess her lovely parents decided to send Aubyn all these gorgeous lemons…tons of them.  So she passed quite a few on to me.  I like to think of them as good luck charms as we enter springtime and my April 8th deadline.

I LOVE lemons…in the winter, our apartment is ridiculously freezing, so I frequently drink hot, hot, hot water with squeezed lemon in it.  Or I squeeze lemon in tea.  But what to do with so many lemons?  Hot toddies anyone?  For you Tori fans out there (I know you’re sadly few & far between):  “Lemon pie, he’s coming through.  Our commander still, Space Dog.”

Salad dressing!  I love salad, so I made a big batch of salad dressing to store in the fridge.  Chopped/minced garlic, olive oil, some salt and pepper, and lots of freshly squeezed Philabaum lemons.  Perfect!  And earlier today, I squeezed some over some broiled chicken I was making…salt, pepper, olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon.  Really, the simplest things are the best, n’est pas?  The garlic in the salad dressing is super potent.  I hope my body shows mercy to the poor soul next to me at the gym tomorrow.  At least no Bikram in the cards this week.  😉

Quick note re. cooking music: usually J & I put on Joni’s “Song to a Seagull,” “For the Roses,” or “Clouds” while we’re cooking & eating dinner.  “I Had a King” is probably my favorite bit of Joni poetry ever.  Since Joni is really an “us” thing, I’ve been listening to the entire catalog (pretty much) of Shearwater albums.  “Palo Santo,” “Rooks,” “the Golden Archipelago” while J has been away.  Jonathan Meiburg has sort of substituted for Jason…at least in the cerebral sense. 😉  Shearwater is playing in NYC next weekend and I cannot wait!

Happy eating, happy lemoning…or “turning lemons into lemonade,” to use the parlance of our times.   😉  “Come in lemon pie, can you read me, lemon pie?  I read you, buddy.”

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